Story-time. It's a precious thing. For me it was one of those bedtime rituals like "Brush your teeth."...but so much better.
Story-time was filled with my brother and I warring over who's favorite would be read, listening to my Dad try to do different voices for characters (Mom was definitely more skilled), and the warm, sloppy comfort of us all piled into bed together. It's 35+ years later and I still cherish these moments.
Books are powerful, magical things.
They show the world...and new ones. For kids they feed curiosity, imagination and connection. Few things are sweeter than reading a story to your favorite toddler. And, research shows that reading to young children boosts their cognitive functions in tons of ways (#WINNING).
(Don't worry -- > Our list of top book picks for 3-6 year olds is below!)
CAUTION. Not all books are created equal.
I can’t tell you how many children’s books I’ve picked up and thrown down because the underlying messaging was down-right awful, especially for girls.
Not all are as obvious as the 2014 Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer fiasco — where you think Barbie is going to learn code and be an engineer but Mattel completely forks that opportunity and instead the book tells girls they aren’t smart enough and to get boys to code for them. (Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.) Even a cute story can be a sandwich of delightful adventures with a thin slathering of revolting on the inside.
Perhaps it’s no surprise but research shows that kids books from 1900’s to 2000 are almost twice as likely to feature a male hero than a female heroine (the study includes questionable characters like Cinderella & Snow White as heroes).
Thankfully, gender representation in kids books is getting better. More books are featuring girls as so much more than pretty princesses or damsels in distress: they are builders, makers, leaders, engineers, explorers, heroes and ninja warriors. They are comfortable in their own skin.
A few key questions we use to evaluate kid stories:
- Are lead characters good role models?
- How do the key characters treat those who are not like them?
- Does this story inspire kids to grow and face challenges in positive ways?
- Will it inspire girls to explore, lead or pursue science & technology?
- Would this book help kids to identify with under-represented groups (race, gender & backgrounds)?
BTW: We are not anti-princess. In fact, there are several princess books in our book collection HERE. Each one blows-up gender stereotypes instead of reinforcing them. These are princesses you’d want to know...like Interstellar Cinderella and Dangerously Ever After.
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to see ALL our favorite books for awesome little girls
WE'VE REVIEWED A TON OF BOOKS FOR TODDLERS.
- HERE ARE THE TOP 8 -
Strong is the New Pretty
--> Click here to see Strong Is The New Pretty on Amazon.
Rosie Revere, Engineer // Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has 100 true stories about the lives of extraordinary women around the world. Each one is told like a fairytale and paired with a portrait by an artist. There's no shortage of role models from all walks of life. It's pretty dang hard not to love what is inside it's folds. We see this book being a spark that encourages little girls to learn more about amazing women in history and dream big for themselves.
Mae Among the Stars
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist
What Do You Do with an Idea
This New York Times bestseller is one of our all-time-favorites. We recommended it for kids and adults alike. For us, this is clearly a book that translates to all ages.
Now, the key figure in this story isn't a little girl, it's an idea and the power of an idea. Beautifully written and illustrated, we see how scary it can be to try (or even think) something new, but also how we can grow and nurture those ideas to create truly amazing things. At it's core, this story can help inspire girls to push forward against adversity, spark their ingenuity, and lay seeds of resilience. All very good things!
This delightful book is about a ninja girl in training who isn't really all that good at ninja skills. Turns out that the life of a little ninja isn't all fun and games (even if there are a lot of kicks)!